I forgot to mention how great the closing line from last episode was. The kids and Misato are grabbing some ramen after the angel fight (because Misato’s such a cheapskate) and they start talking about their reasons for piloting the Evas. Shinji realizes that he’s doing it to impress his father and Asuka’s response is a perfect button…
“That’s the reason? Then you really are an idiot.”
Classic. Just a great example of how this series is taking its characters and drama seriously, but not such that they’re above goofing on it. With that out of the way, let’s get on to this, the thirteenth episode, which was certainly one of the most inventive of the series. I’m still not quite sure how to even describe this… it was epic cyberpunk horror? There was genuine suspense here as the agents NERV desperately tried to stop this sentient computer virus angel from corrupting the Magi. It was like they were all running around inside a giant computer (which is more or less true, I suppose).
I’ve talked a lot about the Gnostic/Masonic/Kabbalistic symbolism running throughout this series, but this circumstances of this angels’ arrival had the pronounced feel of Japanese folk lore. Or, at least, my impression of Japanese folklore from pastiches like PRINCESS MONONOKE. The angel doesn’t exactly attack NERV, it just kind of pops out of the dummy Eva that they’re testing the kids’ synchronization on. It almost felt like some kind of totemic voodoo ritual gone wrong - - summoning a malignant demon instead of a benign spirit through a moment’s fumbling of the incantation. Seriously, things are going just fine until this virus angel just appears out of nowhere and, just like that, the world is about to end. I don’t recall if it’s actually stated that whoever’s sending the angels is getting wise to NERV’s tactics, but that’s definitely the impression I got here. You can't beat them in a fight? Start playing dirty.
I brought up the button line for episode #12 earlier because this episode ends with another great button line to contrast all the seriousness with some sarcasm. After Akagi’s opening up her painful life and impersonal relationship with her mother, Misato just raises an eyebrow and says, “You’re certainly talkative today.” Classic.